After the Effingham City Council meeting was called to order, a moment of silence was observed to honor the recently deceased Norbert “Bud” Althoff, who served as Effingham’s first economic director.
After passing the omnibus vote, the City Council Awarded Matt Wortman, Foreman of the City’s Public Property Division, with the Employee of the Quarter Award. The Public Property Division is responsible for city properties and holiday decorations, namely, the popular Wonderland in Lights display. Mayor Jeff Bloemker presented the award and read the nomination document, citing Wortman’s devotion to the city though his work ethic and attention to detail.
An item was stricken from the City Council agenda that would recommend the City Council to deny a petition for the rezoning of a property owned by Paul Koener and Group Investments, Inc to allow the construction of a towing business nearby Lake Edwards Estates. The petition was removed by Group Investments, Inc and therefore required no action from the Council.
The City Council also approved a $50,000 financial contribution to support the Construction Trades Education Course or CTEC. The year-long program is for Effingham High School seniors interested in the construction trade and is heavily taught by local contractors at construction sites. The City Council heard a presentation from one of the coordinators and a student in the class at the February 2 meeting.
Commissioner Merv Gillenwater expressed his support of the program, but also his concern with the size of the donation. “As I have stated last year, I am an absolute supporter of this particular program, however, I do not believe it is right for the city to have to carry this large a load.” Gillenwater said that he would support a smaller contribution of $25,000 to the CTEC program.
Commissioner Don Althoff, who is involved with the CTEC program, clarified that the sizable contribution is to ensure that the program will be able to continue supporting an instructor. The cost to support the course’s teacher is currently split between the Effingham School District and the CTEC Board. Althoff further clarified that CTEC only asked the city for a two-year commitment of support. “We already pledged that we are not coming back to the city for more funds.” In regards to what CTEC was asking from the city government Althoff said “we cut it down to $50,000 instead of $75,000.”
The donation was approved by a four to one vote. Mayor Jeff Bolemker and Commissioners Althoff, Esker, and Willis voting yea and Commissioner Gillenwater voting nay.
The council also discussed the possibility of establishing speed zones on Rickelman Avenue. Currently, there are no speed limit signs along Rickelman Avenue. The City’s default speed limit is 30 MPH unless otherwise noted. However, because a portion the road is is out of city limits in a rural area, the speed limit goes up to 55 MPH. Because the City is responsible for the maintenance of Rickelman Avenue, even though portions are out of City limits, the Council does have the authority to regulate the speed limit. The issue was presented by Steven Miller, Director of the City’s Public Works Department, who stated that they had received numerous complaints about people speeding along Rickelman Avenue from residents in the the Silver Lake Subdivision. Miller’s proposal would set the speed limit in certain areas on Rickelman Avenue at 30 MPH and some at 35 MPH. The City Council agreed that more research was needed on the area before they discussed the issue further.
Additionally, the City Council approved the issuance of a liquor license to Outer Limits Bar & Grill, LLC located at 1423 E Fayette Avenue.